I used to believe that angels existed only in the heavenly realm. I imagined them as youthful and ethereal beings, clad in flowing robes of brilliant white. And upon their feet were a pair of nice, brown sandals. The rustling of their wings produced only a whisper of sound as they walked upon streets of gold. And they were quiet and somber as they watched over, and sometimes rescued, God‘s children. Yes, that's what I believed about angels - until the snow came down and the lights went out.
Now I believe that angels also exist in the earthly realm. They come in all different shapes, sizes and ages. They are clad in uniforms, jeans and wind pants. And on their feet are wet tennis shoes and dirty cowboy boots. The streets these angels walk upon are covered in messy mud and slippery ice. And sometimes it is impossible to hear the whispered rustling of their wings, because there's not a quiet angel in the bunch! They laugh and they shout. They sing and they talk. Even as they watch over, and often rescue, God's children.
It was early Sunday afternoon. The electricity was still off, but the snow had stopped falling and the sun was thinking about shining. I knew that the storm had stranded many travelers and truckers, and I wondered if they were cold and hungry. I also wondered about the local people in need of assistance. So I bowed my head and asked God to lead me to where I needed to be. “Amen” was barely off my lips when I glanced out the window and saw a highway patrol car traveling west on Main, followed by a white pickup pulling a trailer that bore the words “American Red Cross“. I wanted to jump in my pickup and follow them, but that was impossible since it was buried in a snowdrift at the end of the driveway. Just then the phone rang, and I was told they were going to the Senior Citizen's Center, which is just a short walk from my front door. Hmmm….was God so quickly answering my prayer? Was he telling me where I needed to go? My questions were answered as I stepped across the threshold of the cold and dimly lit Senior Citizen's Center a few minutes later. A sense of purpose and rightness settled upon my spirit, and I knew that I was exactly where God wanted me to be.
For the next seven days that sense of purpose never left me. Each sunrise brought with it a renewal of my spirit and energy. And it was during those seven days that I came to know so many earthly angels. Some of them I will probably never see again. And I will miss hearing the rustling of their wings as they walk by me. But the majority of the band of angels I encountered are those who walk among us every day, disguised as ordinary people.
Next week, I will begin telling you all about the different groups of individuals who stepped across the Cimarron County line - and straight into my heart. You will hopefully come to know and admire them even as I do. The Red Cross. The National Guard. The Baptist Men's Association. The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management. The Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, Food and Forestry. There are so many wonderful stories to relate, and so many examples of what can happen - and what does happen - when everyone works together.
But I must first shout out the names of those who especially blessed me with their willingness, their humor, their candor and goodness. We shared moments of weariness and moments of laughter - and moments of being exactly where God wanted us to be. Alta and Delane Schwindt; Bonnie Borth; Judy Broaddus; Tikki and her girls; and a girl named Jen. God bless each of you!